Helpful Hints

Helpful Hints

What is a septic system and how do I maintain it?
A septic system treats and disposes of wastewater from your home. Households that are not served by public sewers usually depend on a septic system. Septic systems consist of an underground septic tank that holds and partially treats solid waste water coming from your home. An underground drain field is connected to the tank. The drain field consists of a network of perforated pipes that disperse the partially treated wastewater. The wastewater trickles out of the perforated pipes, through a gravel layer then into the soil.
You can maintain your septic system by having it pumped and inspected every two to three years. If you don't have your septic regularly pumped you are setting up your system for failure. Septic system failures are costly to the homeowner and failures risk leaching untreated waste. Signs of septic system failure are:

  • Odors, surfacing sewage, wet spots or lush vegetation on or near the drainfield.
  • Plumbing or septic tank backups.
  • Slow-draining sinks, bathtubs, toilets.
  • Gurgling sounds in the plumbing system.
Here are some reccomendations to help prolong the life of your septic system:

  • Minimize the amount of water entering the septic system.
  • Avoid using a garbage disposal.
  • Do not put non-degradable material down the drain. Example: fats, paper towels, hair, feminine hygiene products, or diapers.
  • Never dump toxic chemicals down the drain.
  • Pump tank regularly.
  • Keep surface of drainfield properly drained.
  • Do not install automatic sprinklers over the drainfield or tank.
  • Plant grass or other shallow rooted plants over septic system.
  • Do not place impermeable or compacted surfaces over drainfield such as concrete or compacted soil.
  • Save fertilizer by not fertilizing over drainfield.
  • Do not use septic system additives.
  • Do not drive cars or heavy machinery over drainfield.
  • Avoid using bleach or anti-bacterial soaps at home because these can kill off the beneficial bacteria in the septic tank.
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I live on a lake and am constantly battling nuisance Canada Geese. They hang out on my shoreline and their droppings are awful! What can I do?

First of all, if you or neighbors are feeding the geese, stop! Feeding the geese will keep them coming back to your property.

Also, if you mow your lawn right up to the shoreline, understand that geese find a mowed lawn very attractive for two reasons. One, the flat lawn allows them easy access to shorelines. Geese naturally avoid shorelines that are ringed with a buffer strip of tall grasses and plants because predators could be hiding in the tall plants.

Secondly, geese like lush, mowed lawns that have been chemically treated and watered because the grass is high in nutrients and is very appetizing to geese.
Consider decreasing or not using fertilizers on your lawn. Your grass may not be as lush but the geese will not find it attractive. Let common areas of your lawn grow a little longer. Also, planting a buffer strip six feet wide along your shoreline will deter geese. Plant native grasses and wildflowers. These plants will adapt best to our climate and a buffer strip can be a beautiful addition to your lakeside property.

You can also try putting up a barrier such as plastic orange fencing (not very attractive but it helps) or string twine between wooden stakes that are placed along the shoreline.

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What are some practical ideas for keeping storm water pollution to a minimum at my home?
Storm water pollution comes from all of us even if we don't mean to pollute. Stormwater picks up oils, metals and salts, pet waste, fertilizer, and other materials left behind on a sidewalk or road before it enters a storm drain. This water does not go to a wastewater treatment plant; instead, it is drained into a nearby lake or river without being treated.
So, here are a few things you can do to help reduce stormwater pollution:

  • Pick up pet waste from your lawn. Bacteria, parasites and viruses from pet waste can wash into the street and into storm drains.
  • Limit the amount of pesticides and fertilizers you use.
  • Check your vehicles for fuel and oil leaks.
  • Wash your car on the lawn or go to a car wash (where the water goes to a wastewater treatment plant). The dirt, oil and suds that run off your driveway and into the storm drains go directly to local streams or lakes.
  • Only rain down the drain. Never dump anything down the storm drain. Use a trash can or recycle instead.
  • Plant a rain garden. These gardens catch storm water run off. To learn more about a rain garden click on
For more information on storm water, go to,1607,7-135-3313_3682_3714-118486--,00.html